Interview with Ignacio Vega and Carlos Ibares Sanz
Ignacio Vega and Carlos Ibares Sanz of Spanish medtech Cardiva, explain the group’s origins as a distributor, the growing importance of manufacturing, and the company’s international ambitions.
Ignacio Vega (IV): Cardiva began life as a distributor, primarily for the US company Medtronic, focused only on northern Spain. In 1990 Cardiva made an agreement with a Scottish company now owned by Therumo and began distributing all over Spain, with offices in Madrid and Barcelona, but our headquarters remained in Bilbao.
During the 1990s, we realized that focusing solely on distribution would always be limiting to our growth aspirations, with the continual consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of smaller manufacturing companies making it a very unstable market. Therefore, we began to look at investing in our own manufacturing facilities. We found a small family company in Malaga, southern Spain, which had been developing products for surgical use for J&J. When J&J decided to transfer their manufacturing to China, they looked to sell and Cardiva acquired the company and their factory in 2001.
At the same time, we also made a move into China with the acquisition of a manufacturing plant near Shanghai. Our Chinese facility – due to the comparatively lower labor costs – acts as our main manufacturing hub, after which the products are transferred to our Malaga facility which hosts the automated part of our production.
We also made the decision to invest in a factory in Barcelona to produce products for vascular diseases in general including all peripheral, coronary and neurovascular areas. Our mentality in Barcelona is to develop the product from the beginning, from the raw material. Having control of the entire production of a product allows us to control costs and compete with the big global medtech companies. With this control, the speed at which we can move, compared to these larger companies, is also a key differentiating factor for us.